His family always told him that business and politics don't mix, however, this became the perfect mix for Kenneth Kern who was named as Jeanerette's Outstanding Citizen by the Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce.
Along with a deep tradition in business, Kern has successfully served the community through volunteer work and politics.
Tradition and a love of Jeanerette is important to Kern. In fact, Kern still lives in his family home where his father was born.
He grew up at a time when Jeanerette had about 2,000 more people, he said but the community remained close.
"It was different than it was now," he said of the city. "I think people knew everyone more than what they do now. I've always loved Jeanerette. I would never want to live anywhere else."
Kern's early years were filled with music, sports and school. He was one of 30 to graduate from Jeanerette High School. "Everything that took place you kind of had to participate or they wouldn't have had enough people. I took part in the band and loved music," he said.
His love of music and playing the trumpet gave him the opportunity to attend college on a music scholarship; however he decided to pursue another interest.
"I finished high school in '54 and we had a band. We played dance halls all over this area," he said.
Kern remained in the band until his junior year of college, at what is now ULL, when his studies in chemistry and mathematics required more of his time. He also met the love of his life, his wife Betty Charpentier, around that timeI was in college when she (Betty) was working in Franklin. She was from Adeline but I didn't know her until I had a blind date," Kern said.
He was introduced to Betty by June Rivette. They dated from that first date until they married two years later.
Kern said the secret to a long relationship was "to always say yes." "You can't go wrong," he smiled.
Entering into business was also an easy choice for Kern whose family owned Jeanerette Electric since 1924.
"My father needed me and I liked working here but being in business was the furtherest thing from my mind at the time," Kern said.
Kern began working in the business right after he left the U. S. Air Force and decided to take over the family business after his father died several years later.
"It was a family business. The Eskinds were partners with my grandfather and then me. They (the Eskinds) offered and I bought their interest in the business," Kern said.
Even though Kern had a taste of life outside of Jeanerette when living in Fort Worth while he served in the U. S. Air Force, he never wanted to live anywhere else. Being in business allowed Kern to raise a family of four sons in the community that he loved.
"It think being raised in Jeanerette is an ideal situation," he said.
Kern's love of the city eventually led him to pursue politics, although he was hesitant at first. He was elected to the Jeanerette City Council where he has served three terms.
"I do speak my peace for better or worse," he admits. "I've always tried to lend my opinion."
Kern loves that Jeanerette has maintained its small town appeal throughout the years and hopes that this will continue to attract residents.
"The thing I love the most about the city is I know just about everybody and everybody knows me," he said.
Kern would like to see the city limits expand and is proud of the accomplishments of the city.
Kern said that there was no secret to being an outstanding citizen, "it's just in the trying."
"I feel fortunate to have grown up in Jeanerette," he said.